William Jones: Atlantic Council hopes to lure the Global South from China's 'embrace'


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William Jones: Atlantic Council hopes to lure the Global South from China's 'embrace'


Source: CGTN Published: 2024-02-27

From February 21 to 22, the Atlantic Council, which has become the public diplomacy arm of the Anglo-American military-industrial complex, held a two-day conference entitled 'China in the Global South: Development and Influence in a Shifting Global Order.' Over two days, an array of 'scholars,' some from Africa, Asia and Latin America, came together to 'critique' China's development programs. There was even a keynote speech by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Kritenbrink, which laid down the theme of the conference.

In his comments, Kritenbrink said that China 'has itself benefited from the stability and the opportunity that the international order provides,' but 'often takes actions that undermine those principles.' China intends to 'reshape the international order' he said. Kritenbrink claimed that China has not only 'become more repressive at home,' but it has also become 'more aggressive abroad' by making unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea, placing steep trade restrictions on other countries, and surveilling and intimidating individuals – including U.S. citizens.

What Kritenbrink fails to notice is the fact that U.S. warships continually patrolling the South China Sea and statements by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, that the U.S. is working harder to recruit spies in China, has, of course, not been ignored by the Chinese government in their formulation of polices of 'opening up' and their strengthening of their defense capabilities. They realize that they are dealing with a nation with a significant capability, which increasingly views China as an economic rival and has a potent military capacity to exert that 'rivalry.'

What then is the 'global threat' that China could pose to the Global South, according to the Assistant Secretary of State? They were the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has brought development to countries that were previously mired in poverty and starvation, and the proposals for a Global Development Initiative, a Global Security Initiative, and a Global Civilization Initiative, measures which have already been embraced by the United Nations and most of the countries of the world.

It's interesting to note that Kritenbrink's speech, while widely cited, has been hard to find on the internet. But this somewhat more abrasive policy was also reiterated at a higher level, in a somewhat different context, by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said, at the Munich Security Conference on February 21, 'If you're not at the table in the international system, you're going to be on the menu.' These strong words came from an otherwise rather mild-mannered Blinken, but no doubt they are characteristic of the hysteria that is overtaking our nation's leaders, with the setbacks in NATO's war in Ukraine and the general aversion by developing countries – and others – to be led by the United States.

Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, speaks as Annalena Baerbock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, listens at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2024. /CFP

The focus of the Atlantic Council get-together was Africa, Asia and Latin America. The tenor of the critique was that these countries would tend to follow China in 'geopolitical' questions, even to the point of rejecting 'democracy,' because of 'economic blackmail.' At the same time, it was clearly stated that China is not trying to export its system, but rather, unlike the Western approach, has been prepared to work with the other nations regardless of their domestic political system. While 'regime change' has always been on the menu of the Anglo-American crowd, this is of no interest for China.

Other arguments that have become somewhat stale with time, involved the alleged threat of a 'debt trap' for these nations, even though it was indicated that, if problems arose with debt payments, China normally would extend the term of payment, rather than, as has been the custom for the Anglo-American crowd, to simply 'send the Marines.'

'Courting' the Global South by the U.S. could be a very difficult task at this point of the game. Most countries are aware of the 'hidden motives' of the U.S. in this endeavor. One of the Latin American speakers clearly indicated that when it came to questions of economics, most of the Latin American countries, guided by their own national interests, would side with China on economic issues rather than the U.S.

In addition, the countries of the Global South are no longer alone but are represented by some powerful organizations like the BRICS, and the enhanced role of the G20 has given them an important forum for voicing their concerns.

China is not working to 'change' the world order. The world order has already changed – and for the better. What China is doing with its three initiatives and with the BRI is providing a context in which that 'change' can benefit all countries of the world, and not just the few.

William Jones, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, was the White House correspondent for EIR News Service and is a non-resident fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies.